/, Essays, Blesok no. 136/IDENTITY IS A STORY…


On the one hand, this essay sends a clear message: “I am looking for that Europe with true reflection, criticism and debate! … That Europe where my diversity is not going to be a problem, but rather a solution…” (Стефановски 2005: 55). On the other hand, he says: “Eastern European performing artists will have to stop their amnesia and remember that it was their world in a spasm at the beginning of the century that gave birth to Chekhov, Malevich, Stavrinsky, Eisenstein, Nijinsky, Harms, Vvedensky and Bulgakov. Those are the same names that the always flexible West has adopted as its own. This is how the East, whence these names came from, became known as the Wild East. And the Wild West, from which Wyatt Earp and Calamity Jane emerged, to become a refined and cool possessor and guardian of modernism. Eastern performers are faced with an old-fashioned and lonely homework task – to find their voices, to remember their names, to regain their self-confidence, to regain their space, and to recognize their continuity. They need to earn their stories and fight for them – no matter how valuable or worthless those stories are; sexy or not sexy.” (Стефановски 2005: 93)

Hence, in Goran’s essayistic worldview, at this level, the conflict with the epic principle is two-sided – it does not matter only whether the broader socio-cultural context represented by the superior Other perceives our story as his Otherness which is rejecting it or simply disinterested in it, but how do we perceive ourselves and how do we tell our story – how much do we allow ourselves to be perceived as the Other that is inferior? But that opens the dilemma: Does it still mean that it is necessary to compare ourselves with the Other because through the difference between us and the Other we confirm our uniqueness – do we thus confirm that we exist? Because, as Stefanovski says: “We long to compare our story with other stories, to examine where we are the same, where we are similar, and where we are completely different.” (Стефановски 2005: 15)

Therefore, at the end of one of his essays published just over fifteen years ago explicitly, and in his last essay – implicitly, after elaborating on numerous conflicts between the lyrical and epic principle, he says: “We need hard work to identify and harmonize our authentic and sovereign story. We need an uprising of vision, will and mind; of persistent work, media cunning and negotiation skill.” (Stefanovski 2005: 34) It is not accidental that such a message is at the end of an essay-sermon – with an exclamation point, instead of the canonized essayist three points. Because “the art of rhetoric is the art of acting (agissant) discourse” (Рикер 2003: 41), and the reference to the story and its importance, in Stefanovski’s essay is a call to action: to show our story. But also a warning, which goes beyond the contexts of the nationally bounded cultural space, as well as most of the messages of Goran’s essayism: “To survive in the cruel world, our story must be true, grounded in knowledge and insight.” (Stefanovski 2018)


All this, in the micro-reading of Goran’s essayism, points to the conclusion that “… every search for identity is a search for our own discourse, for discovering narratives about ourselves – those with whom we define ourselves, with which we tell our story of the displaced Balkan reality. The cunning of our local mind no longer allows anyone else to do it for us. It is the most legitimate and natural attempt to move from a lower to a higher status, from an ‘object’ to a subject. But because every effort to understand ourselves and others lies in the realization of our own inadequacy, in the perception of the inner rift – in the abyss which, although it does not allow us to identify with ourselves as a whole, serves as a passage to a different ontological order – it becomes clear that the key to understanding the Other (the other culture, the other direction) – is, in fact, the step into oneself. Of course, this does not mean that we should not insist on ethnicity – on the contrary – but only within a universal, cultural identity in which we will have to fight with the view of the Other.” (Бановиќ-Марковска 2007: 25) And we have to try to identify the questions and dilemmas. Because they appear precisely in the clash of our story with the reading, perception, and interpretation of the Other – in the clash between the lyrical and epic principle … when it comes to counter-story, conflict, drama, as the great Goran Stefanovski would say[4]. But let us not forget the warning: “A false story can cost us dearly, lead us astray, to a dead-end, and even to death. Our landscapes are constantly changing, so our stories must be constantly adapted. The story is a map. If it does not correspond to the landscape, we get lost.” (Stefanovski 2018)


[5] Stefanovski’s essays on identity issues and dilemmas should not be analyzed only isolated … Goran’s essays should also be read in the contexts provided by Stefanovski’s entire creative opus – including his dramatic work, as well as the film “To the Hilt (Do Balchak)”, i.e. the previous, original screenplay, “A Tale of the Wild East”. They should be read comparatively, within the corpus of essay texts by contemporary writers in exile, especially those from Southeast Europe, but also comparatively within the Macedonian essay corpus. Reading the essay and overall work of the great Goran Stefanovski is not only a literary challenge – it is also an obligation/debt of the Macedonian culture.

AuthorIvan Antonovski
2021-04-03T19:30:48+00:00 March 31st, 2021|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 136|0 Comments